The subject of healthy eating has become a lucrative niche for bloggers, writers, speakers and many food crusaders.
There is an influx of information and opinions of what people should eat, what they should not, what is causing the excessive obesity, the fear of cancer-causing diets among others.
There is always something about eating and masses are willing to pay for this information. So, what exactly is healthy eating and how can a healthy eater manage consistency in the practice when operating on a budget? Is it a sustainable habit? Is it affordable to everyone?
The only way of understanding healthy eating and making it cost effective is through interpreting and understanding its components.
It is knowing what minerals and nutrients the human body requires, the appropriate times of giving them to the body, where they are found and how much they cost.
It also requires the accurate knowledge of what is highly recommended for human health by nutritionists and real experts in that area.
It is important to keep in mind the different types of diets so that one can pick something that suits their bodies, appetites and belief systems as well.
Finally, understanding one’s ability to sustain the selected diet financially is paramount as well.
Important Nutrients and Minerals
The body requires a number of nutrients and minerals to help it grow and stay strong. The tissues, organs, cells and the entire structure of a human body is constructed on the intake of nutrients and minerals. The following are the most essential nutrients and minerals needed:
In simple terms, vitamins protect the body against pathological attacks. They are responsible for the majority of the proper functioning of the body that is why they are present in almost all the food that is consumed by both human beings and animals.
There are thirteen types of vitamins and all of them are important. They include vitamins vitamin A,B1,B2,B3,B5,B6,B7,B9,B12, C,D,E and K. They are classified in regard to the functions they have in the body including tissue growth, enzyme activation, hormonal balancing and anti-oxidation.
Some function as detoxifiers. Vitamins are found in supplements and are especially recommended during pregnancies and other medical conditions. Food is the main source of vitamins and they are mostly found from vegetables and fruits.
Proteins are commonly known as body building foods. Their complex structures, making amino acids lead to development of cells.
Proteins are grouped into two: animal proteins found in meat and other animal products like milk, yoghurt, cheese among others and plant proteins found in legumes mostly.
Both proteins function the same way essentially but there are recommendations in balancing both in the diet.
These are energy giving foods in simple language. They are broken down by the body and converted to the energy that is required for day to day activities.
They are made of various types of sugar as well. They are found in cereals, potatoes, sugar extracts, honey and some fruits and vegetables.
Fats are found in oils, dairy products, meats, nuts, sweets and baked foods. They are always accompanied by proteins and carbohydrates in the diet.
Fats are responsible for availability of cholesterol, phospholipids and triglyceride in the body. Fat will always repel people who are dieting sometimes because of the foregrounded disease fallacies that many nutritionists warn about, but the truth is all these components are important to the body in certain measures.
The important omegas are found here as well, and their health importance is known so well.
Minerals are equally important. It is good to know that the food one is taking takes care of them in all spheres. Minerals take care of:
- Neuron development: where the response of neurons, sensitivity, sleep and activity are kept in check.
- Bone health: bone density and strength are important to the body. It is dangerous to gather flesh, fat and muscles around weak bones.
- Biochemical normalcy- concerned with the structure of plasma, tissue mass, enzymes and hormonal balancing.
- Immunity-which is very vital for survival. Once the immunity is compromised, healthy eating cannot solve most of the problems in the body, concerning health.
- Body metabolic function- takes care of the breakdown systems, absorption of taken in nutrients by the body. Here, water, essential acids and enzymes taking care of body functions should be kept in check through what is eaten.
Every mentioned state has a specific mineral that takes care of its availability and balance in the body. Every part is essential whether in small measure or large measure because they work hand in hand with nutrients to run the body system. The minerals needed are:
- Calcium found in animal proteins like milk, some vegetable proteins like soya, and vitamin D compositions. Exposure to sunlight is also a good source of vitamin D. calcium are responsible for bone strength, teeth strength, nails and cartilage.
- Iron is the component that takes care of blood processing. What is human life without blood? It is important for a healthy eater to put into consideration foods that enhance iron production like, legumes, liver, some fruits and vegetables to prevent the fatal anemic instances.
- Folate, also known as folic acid is important especially to unborn babies. For the spine to be perfect and the nervous system to develop well, then the fetus should be given enough folic acid. This is found in sea foods, fish, and specific fruits and vegetables.
There are other minerals like zinc, magnesium and several sulphates that help the functioning of the body but the above three are the most important.
The remaining ones are also rare to cause any health issue if not sufficient in the body. They are also given in small quantities.
The use of supplements can be very expensive sometimes and they are not as effective as food can be because they are artificially generated.
When operating on a budget, it is important to maximize the use of natural food that is available allover rather than spend money on nutritional supplements that only give the illusion of being fed and full but in reality, the stomach is empty.
Supplements are only recommended for health reasons and if the doctors see it necessary that they should be used, otherwise they should sometimes just be left alone.
Having understood the components that the body requires, it is essential that the dieter understands which ones are more important and what should be eaten more than the other.
It is known that everything done in excess, is detrimental to health. This is where the famous food pyramid comes in for the dieting.
The Food Pyramid Explained
A pyramid is structured in such a way that the base is always the biggest with a narrowing climb to the top. The sugars and fats are on the narrowest point.
This implies that they are to be consumed minimally. This is due to the complications attached to taking too much of them.
High cholesterol is dangerous to the heart and the flow of blood in the veins. Too much sugar also leads to obesity if not properly consumed by the body.
The second on the ladder going to the base of the pyramid is proteins. This is both the animal and plant proteins. The poultry, meats, eggs, milk nuts, yoghurt, cheese, fish among others should be eaten in fewer servings just beneath the sugars and fats.
The breaking down of this food require a lot of energy and they take longer in the system before they are expelled.
But it should also be noted that there are dieters who are protein resistant and their bodies don’t allow the intake. In such cases, medical consultation should be made before settling down with a specific diet.
The next area is vegetables and fruits. This has been given more preference to sugars, fat and proteins.
This is due to the vitamins, minerals and high fiber that they provide in the body. Here, it is advisable to take more vegetables compared to fruits due to the high levels of sugar in some fruits.
Finally, most servings are awarded to the carbohydrates. Wheat products, cereals, whole meals, rice and pasta among others fall under this group.
These foods are easily absorbed and converted. They increase metabolism and ae an important source of energy. The body needs energy to function properly.
People would always argue that starchy foods are fattening but research shows that what is added to them when cooking or processing is what fattens.
That’s why whole grains and less fortified foods are recommended. When properly prepared, the starches would rarely fatten.
Having known the most important foods and the quantities needed in the body, one is able to plan themselves on how they will budget for them.
But before the economical question sets in, it is important to understand different types of diets to know what suits who at what time.
Everyone has what they prefer on dieting depending on the reasons behind dieting, the goals to be achieved and the beliefs of people as far as food is concerned.
Types of Diets
There are different types of diets that exist in the world today. Many more diets are coming up as well depending on the needs of the public and individuals. However, the ones discussed below are the most commonly adopted diets by masses practicing various eating habits.
A vegetarian diet comprises of purely plant products. Vegetarians or vegans only eat plant products and even drops of animal products can lead to disaster. Vegans come up as a result of humanitarian beliefs on not taking life and tolerance.
Weight control diets
The common weight loss diet is the barbarian diet, vegan diet, low-carbohydrate diets, high protein diet and the ultra-low fat diet. All these are goal-oriented diets. One interested in eating for cutting weight should be prepared to budget on either of these.
Crash diets work for people who have no time to eat. They prefer putting everything together once for time or preference. Such diets are crucial for people operating on a paranormal schedule that contradicts the set world norms.
This is mainly medical. Sometimes religious beliefs lead to detox diets. This is when people eat with the purposes of cleaning the systems. The cheapest detox diet is one high in vegetables and fruits supplemented by lots of water.
Belief based diets
Monks, Buddhists, Seventh Day Adventists among others have their own dietary norms. There are people who consider some foods uncleans while others see it as a delicacy. The concept of one man’s meal being another man’s poison really works here. Knowing what your beliefs are allow you to eat helps in settling for the right types of food.
Diabetics, cancer patients, digestive complicated persons, blood pressure patients, among others have their own diets based on their medical requirements. When operating under a budget especially on a medical ground, it can get costly. Most of the medical diets are normally very strict and expensive.
This is a diet for people who thrive on low acids. They supplement their diet with alcohol as well. Proteins are normally excluded here. It is not a common diet type though.
Blood type diets
There are people who believe that different blood groups should be eaten different foods. This is not scientifically proven yet but if at all someone wants to eat in accordance to their blood group, then let their vessels sail in peace.
This is what people call clean eating. Here it is ensured that no chemicals whatsoever are involved in growing the food. The animals to be eaten are not given any artificial component, no medicines and even the food they eat should be organically grown. The same applies to the plants eaten. No fertilizers or medicines used on them. Organic diet is currently very expensive because it is associated with class but when people discover growing their own food, it can be totally affordable and less harmful.
There are people who are allergic to different types of nutrients and foods. There are those who cannot eat proteins, wheat and its products, milk and even some fruits and vegetables. For safety cases, it important for people to understand what they are eating before risking their lives.
Special pregnancy diet
Pregnancy is normal in most cases. However, there are cases where special diets are recommended especially on issues of vitamins, folic and iron. There are people who cannot totally take supplements and hence are required to make a special diet for acquiring these vital nutrients for the fetus.
With the knowledge of existing diets, one is able to pick what suits them and stick to it. However, there is regular diets for people who eat to live without any complications or preferences. Other diets are coming up daily and are being adopted. It is not therefore guaranteed that the mentioned ones are the only diets existing.
The most important questions, after all this food knowledge and picking the preferred diet is, how can one manage eating healthy within a budget?
Budgeting for Healthy Eating
Having known what is best for the body universally in their specific measures, knowing one’s body structure and goals on diet and the types of diets that exist, here are some of the methods one can use to afford eating healthy.
Proper food planning
Everything that is organized and planned ends up being cost effective. Having a plan on what suits you as far the diet you are observing is concerned, creates discipline in buying and consuming.
Sometimes careless eating can be costly. Having something like a feeding timetable balancing all the required foods on the nutritional scale from breakfast to dinner and between snacks will really help in balancing the expenses and even tracking how one is spending on food.
Making a Proper List of Groceries
Knowing exactly what one wants to buy helps in reducing instances of impulse buying. It also gives the grocery shopping discipline. Instances of forgetting the most important things needed for the diet are also reduced.
Having a List of Healthy Snacks
Snacks are very expensive and don’t be surprised when you find them selling hire than the real food. Snacks are also a reason why people spend out of budget in most occasions.
It is therefore important to make a list of favorite snacks based on their nutritional values to avoid messing up the diet goals.
Once they are acquired one will know what snack is eaten at what time for specific reasons.
Cooking at home
One of the reasons why people are constantly falling ill due to their lifestyles, is eating in fast foods. The foods here are basically fried with lots of spices to achieve the visual appeal and attract the taste buds for more.
Nutritional value is always thrown out of the window. The main objective is to have the stomach filled.
These meals are costly as well compared to cooking at home. Making one’s own meal gives the discipline to maintain the required nutrients and use proper proportions on fats and seasoning. It gives room for comfort eating as well.
Left over usage
Cooking at home also helps on cost effectiveness due to available leftovers. One can use some servings and spare others, frozen for future purposes.
Investing in whole foods
Whole foods that are not processed are usually very cheap compared to processed foods. The process of processing then conserving them also leads to death of some nutrients. Whole meals are not just healthy but cost effective.
Growing a garden, orchards and keeping some poultry or fish can save the on the cost of always shopping for food.
Some spices can be grown like potted plants. Some fruits grow on live fences. This is just one way of knowing what you are eating and affording it easily. Organic eaters can invest in this as well.
Farm shopping and sales
One of the cheapest ways to buy groceries is to do farm shopping. There are farms with well-developed selling areas for the produces.
Customers are shown how the foods are grown and they buy them afterwards. In such cases, one easily gets more value for money.
Sales in grocery shops also helps in saving costs. However, one should be careful on expiration since cheap sometimes can turn out to be very expensive in that sense.
Investing in using the cheaper version of the same food helps in cutting the cost. Meat and eggs both have proteins, but eggs are way cheaper.
Once in a while swapping helps the budget. One can do plants proteins instead of animal. One can do whole meals like oats instead of cereals. Surprisingly, the cheaper ones are usually healthier.
Having Diet Partners
Sometimes having partners with whom to split the cost, helps in saving. People in the same diet plan can share items to bulk buy and share equally. One buys one item and shares with the others to get the ones they did not buy.
Buying in season fruits and vegetables
When these two are in season, they would be very cheap. If the nutritional value is the same, why go for those out of season and spend more. Eat what everybody is eating.
Eating for Nutrients not Class
It is very easy to be carried away now days with the class and social status. Everyone wants to be seen to be affording some class meals.
The point is, what is the nutritional value in the plate one is spending lots of dollars on? It is better to eat a cheap meal packed with healthy nutrients.
Building up staples
Everyone knows what they eat regularly. Stocking the staple foods like cereals, flour, spices among others helps in cutting cost as compared to buying little by little every time need arises.
Health complications can be very costly to manage. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is sacrificial but the end justifies the means.
It is good to exercise and keep healthy. Regular detoxifying and water intake help in keeping the body safe.
In conclusion, eating healthy on a budget can be tricky sometimes and it requires a lot of discipline.
It requires the knowledge of what healthy eating is, the exact thing that works for the dieter and what they can afford. By keeping this knowledge close, one will be able to stay healthy within the preferred budget.